The FOMC met Tuesday and Wednesday. I enjoyed two-day meetings when I was there, but we normally had only two two-day meetings per year, in February and July. The problems have grown lately and so have the number of two-day meetings.
The July meeting was usually close to July 4th-closer than this one-and the British ambassador invited us to his residence for dinner on the evening between meetings. In my first few years, Alan Greenspan sat across from the ambassador of the time, and they discussed big-picture issues very eloquently. It was educational for me as well as entertaining.
The evenings generally ran too late, given the weighty matters left to be discussed the following morning. It got to be a game to see who would be the one to break the spell and announce our need to leave. The consensus of my cohort probably was that Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin was the best at it, although Mrs. Greenspan was pretty good as well. (Think about it.)
At some point the ambassador-one of them-started inviting the Governor or Deputy Governor of the Bank of England to hold up their end of the conversation. I enjoyed Eddie George more than his successor.
Eddie George was more my kind of guy, rumpled suit and all. I had made a courtesy call on him in his London office when he was preparing to leave for a small town to give a speech. I'd been doing the same thing back home and I had a well-received joke that I was willing to share with him. He already knew the joke. Unbelievable.
Before one dinner at the ambassador's residence, standing on the steps overlooking the back-yard garden with gins and tonic and such, the ambassador's wife needed a light for her cigarette. The entire FOMC fumbled around to no avail. Eddie was the only guy in the crowd with a light. Cool.
There was something very special about those evenings with the British around the 4th of July. Both sides seemed to be over the unpleasantness surrounding that date back in 1776. I'm glad.